Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Saying Goodbye...

**I've been reading all of your farewell comments - crying over how precious you all are - and I will leave these blog pages open/available to you for a short time, as so many of you have requested.  Y'all can get your recipes and such that way. I've closed down all my comments from now on to eliminate the spam that attacks vacant blogs but please know I've treasured your sweet words.** 

I've been battling back and forth with this for over a year now. This moment of decision. I've decided to leave my blog, shop and public instagram account. You've stuck with me for so long and I want to give you some of my reasons as I let you into my heart one last time. 

My shop. It had many thriving years and God blessed our family through the funds earned there time and time again. Honestly though, art is becoming such a common thing- (well the kinds of interchangeable prints & typography that I create anyway), that it's getting harder & harder for me to compete & bring home a profit. We're in a new place, being on 100% commission, with Adrain's new job, and I won't lie, it's daily terrifying! I'm learning to wait. The thing is, I have a tendency to think it's up to me to fix any financial holes and God is showing me that He is perfectly capable of not only filling them, but He has also gently turned off the tap of sales this past year so I've had no choice but to wait on Him. 

Blogging was and is my first love. I need to begin anew somehow, but I'm unclear...all I know is that now isn't the time for me to continue here. I plan to close this chapter, do some heart and mind work, and see what God has next. I so can't wait...He is pulling me in close and I'm learning about His heart in a whole new way. Journaling has been my daily source of writing joy. 

I don't want to be negative as I write my farewell, but there is an honest side to things that's not always positive. I've felt unsatisfied with most of what social media stirs up inside of me for a long time. Also, when it comes to kids growing up, wanting more and more privacy, having a father battling Alzheimers & not really sharing much out of respect for my family... it feels like, if I can't share all of me, I'm half-in, hiding or glossing over specifics, and that's simply not me.
Instagram is a hard one to leave but as soon as I opened up a private account, I took all our daily photos of the kids, our regular moments and life updates with me. It no longer felt like the public account was me, heart and soul, anymore. I'll pretty much only be in one place "out there" in the world after this- my private Instagram. I'm more than okay with the chance to have more silences and spaces. Life used to have more of those and I'm desperate for them. 

That said, I will miss you, I won't lie. I'll probably go through withdrawals for a couple weeks!! What's weird, is thinking of doing the holidays without all "that." I feel the most immense wave of freedom and relief when I think of it though, I can't lie. I look forward to time and attention to focus wholly on my family and these precious yet different holiday years stretching before me.

I'll be praying thankfully for you for many years to come. I'll never forget you. I'll treasure your kind words, your support, encouraging emails and your love, even though most of us never met. Thank you for walking alongside of me.  Of us. Of cheering us on, being our friends and listening to me ramble on since 2008.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A couple of my favorite life hacks...

I love things that make life easier, use resources better, and generally help a girl out, so today I am sharing just a few of my favorite hacks, plus a little cuteness.  It's stormy outside, here in the Pacific Northwest and I am thoroughly enjoying the cozy indoors as I write this. 

My first hack originally came from my friend Lissa, who blogs here.  Over the last year, it has quickly become one of my very favorite and useful life hacks and I've used it repeatedly!  You know how you purchase a really great scented candle, only to burn it down and toss it out with a rim of unused wax all over the inside when it's all over? Doesn't that seem so wasteful?  The idea is: purchase a few wicks from a craft store and then when your candle is finished, pluck the remaining original wick from the bottom, put the candle into a pot of water, melt the wax back down, then pop your new wick in, let it harden, and voila, new candle!

 I love the Volcano scented candles at Anthropologie.  (I may actually be a little obsessive about these candles.) They are far and away my all time favorite scent.  But their candles are so pricey.  My husband bought me a nice big one last year, and I think it was about $25-30.  Well, I want that baby to last as long as possible and be as responsible as I can with a splurge purchase like that!  I've melted the wax down once before and used the same big candle holder with a new wick, but this morning I went for round two if you can believe that.  I still had enough leftover melted wax to fill two entirely new candle holders!

My personal tip- put a small amount of melted wax into the bottom of your vessel and let that harden around the new wick.  I use a chopstick to hold it in place.  Once the wax at the bottom is hardened, you can add the remaining melted wax to fill it.  The wick wont move on you at that point.
  Tip #2- don't move them.  Just let them come to room temp.  I've made this one expensive candle last a whole year and I still have two brand new candles out of it as of this afternoon.  It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

Okay next life hack. This isn't original either but I personally love it, as a busy mom of teens.  I want to feed my kids well, I want to spend minimal amount of time doing it and I want to move on to the next thing the night holds.  It's a tall order but I believe it can be done!

Boxed soups.  One evening I was rushing, I had two boxes of trader joe's butternut squash soups in the pantry.  I pulled them out and started thinking.  My boys are super into having meat.  So I knew I had to add meat somehow!  Boys! I quickly cooked a package of mild Italian sausage, drained it and added into the soup, then I doctored the rest of it with spices.  I added a handful of chopped fresh sage, 2 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp each of cumin and tumeric.  You can add more or less to taste.  This soup was so good.  So fall-flavorful and took less than ten minutes.  I served them all bread on the side and they want it again so I consider it a win.
 I took the rest of the fresh sage and hung it upside down to dry.  I'll use that through the winter, so nothing wasted. 
 This is a general fun life hack for those dark and dreary days.  Take a battery-powered light string and drop it into any glass vessel.  Even better if it's got a self timer and can come on at the same time each day. (I haven't gotten one with a clear battery pack so you can see it at the bottom.  If you've got a great tip for hiding these please share in comments.  I went so far as to fill the bottom with sand, rip the guts out of a battery powered candle and tuck the battery pack up inside the candle.  I wasn't a huge fan of that look and I like less fuss so it's just like this for now and I'm okay with that because the lights are so fun.  The glass pumpkin is $8 at Target right now.)
 This is one of my most often used ones.  I frequently need to do a quick touch up to my kitchen cabinets or trim, because I swear I live with children who are actually little bulls in a china closet. Ha! One day, I poured a bit of paint into a mason jar, and used a rubber band to attach the tiny artist brush I often use.  It's been so handy for quick dings and scratches, and I keep it in my laundry room so the paint is always at room temp and nearby!
 And now for some pretty.  My friend Kim, showed up to bible study with a platter of these little white pumpkins.  (She hollowed them out, added some soil and succulents and they are tiny perfection!)  The whole platter was adorable and I think these would be the cutest place card holders for a fall table.  Or a long row of them could be a great centerpiece.  She said after the pumpkin rots, move the succulents into another container.  Awesome.
Finally, I just added this wintry print to my shop for purchase. (I know it's a bit early but y'all are all buying up the Christmas tree-topped vintage camper watercolor and several other Holiday prints so I can get away with adding this, right?) (wink)

Are there any fun life hacks you can't live without?  It would be so fun to read about yours in comments!  

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Real life refresh

I can get so distracted by social media sometimes and I wonder if any of you can relate?  Scrolling through such pretty and perfect homes, seeing the way things were transformed "on a budget" but all the while, knowing as you see it, that it had to have cost them hundreds or thousands of dollars and then trying to translate that to your own real life... especially when "on a budget" means something totally different to you!

I repainted our master bedroom last winter but simply didn't have enough energy to finish painting the master bathroom with the same paint, at the time.  I finally had a free day early this week and stood in the bathroom contemplating what I needed to do and the funds I had to do it with.  Zero.  I stood there thinking, and then remembered that I had not checked my consignment account in a while.  I called the store and found out that I had $35 waiting for me and praised God because this was such a sweet surprise and I know that the thought to check there came straight from Him. 

Suddenly my plans began to form... We had painted this bathroom cabinet white, years ago but it was the worst paint job (done sloppily by me) with scratches and nicks and dings all over.  I always had the idea that we would be remodeling this room eventually, knocking out that wall on the left and putting in a soaker tub, french doors and creating an oasis of sorts...along with replacing that tiny master vanity with something a LOT larger... someday.  Well that day is not anywhere near so I decided that it was time to get serious about using what I had and making the most of it.  I already had the wall paint because of the master bedroom and guest room paint jobs-(we had purchased enough extra so this could be included in that.)  The ugly existing hardware on the vanity (not shown) had once been spray painted by me (see exhibit A of the chipping doorknob that also needs to be dealt with someday). It was in bad shape.

After taking stock, I decided that with a sanding down, fresh coat of paint and new hardware plus some good organization, we'd be all set. Then I went to Home Depot and promptly succumbed to sticker shock over the price of pulls, knobs and handles.  I was just thrilled that after purchasing them, I was still able to buy a roller cover and frame for the paint job. Ha! (Actually I'm not kidding.)  I am normally pretty well set up for supplies when it comes to tape and brushes and such but if you're not, those can be a little spendy.  I also used the leftover paint from our recent coffee table repaint, and Joe's desk from his awesome room refresh. (This is the quart that has no end... seriously, I still have half a can of paint left.) (And I'm sorry, I don't know the paint name.... it's a deep gray with some navy in it.)
  When the room and cabinet were painted, I ripped the back of this cubby shelf off to lighten things up a bit.  I can always nail it back on if I change my mind but this room is very dark and it's a pain to get ready in because of that.

So back to what I said at the beginning.  Sometimes real life is having $35 to transform a room by painting, cleaning, tweaking and moving wall hangings around.  If you keep waiting to have enough funds to really change something, perhaps this post can encourage and inspire you that paint is powerful, hardware is the perfect accessory and re-thinking things a bit can make all the difference in the here and now while you wait for the "someday" to come! 
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday Talks

It's a gray Tuesday morning over here in the Brodeur household and I've had to cancel today's plans to be home with a sick teenager.  While he's resting I decided to get a little blog post up, reflecting on the past weekend.  We experienced our first Homecoming and it was delightful.  Joe went with such a great group of good kids. From the sounds of it, they had a wonderful and safe time of dinner, dancing and a small after party at a friend's local dance studio where they had Italian sodas, snacks and more dancing while tired parents waited... Ha! 

I won't lie, it was super emotional for me which took me completely by surprise.  My baby!  A freshman... at his first school dance!  Waaaaaaaaaa!   I loved this shot.... there were two huge rocks where all our kids were arriving for photos before hand.  They were the perfect resting spot for all the corsage boxes.  Both of the rocks were covered with these boxes at the end and I thought it was adorable.

I wish I could show more photos but alas, they involved many other kids and I didn't ask any permission from parents.  Joe looked crazy handsome!  And a few musings about homecoming dances.  1) When did asking a girl take on more pressure for originality than asking a grown woman to marry you?  Seriously. (Also this could be an entire blog post but I'll refrain.) 2) The social scene is already heating up for my boy for Tolo, with these hoards of girls already feeling him out about his plans... Homecoming photos haven't even been printed yet.  Wowza.  I can't believe we're at this stage.  How did this happen?  And Junior girls too!  What?  3) Boys are super easy to prepare for a dance.  Deodorant and how to tie a tie. Boom!

 Speaking of plans. (This is where I admit my freakish nature out loud, unapologetically.) Do any of you have a notebook where you make lists (many lists) really far ahead of time so that you can keep all of life straight?  Because I do.  I jot down notes and reminders about all kinds of future events, plans, holidays, etc, and it keeps me really organized as the season goes along.  I've always been like this so it's rather normal in my mind... even if there are those who like to tease me about having my thanksgiving menu already planned out.  (You know who you are!) And yes.  Yes I do have it totally planned out.  How is that wrong? (My people gave me full license to change it up this year and I may have taken it and ran with it one night, while all alone with Pinterest and my Camille Styles entertaining book.  Just saying.)  This is the only way I never forget anything.  Otherwise... I would forget my own name. 

I've been mulling over various ideas for a thanksgiving table centerpiece ever since, and I'm going a little nuts for mixed metals right now.  I went to Goodwill last weekend hoping to find an inexpensive silver bowl and some old brass candlesticks.  I was doing a happy dance when I did find two perfect bowls and three brass candlesticks!  (I think I'll go back and hunt for three more since I have two months (I know) but even if I don't find any more with the right shapes and heights, these are good. I plan to put some gray tapers in them and though I'm not sure what flower arrangement I'll create, I'm practicing making some and enjoying them right now, as my seasonal flowers and foliage changes.

 I filled a silver bowl with wet floral foam, and then walked around my yard plucking faded plum-colored hydrangeas, unturned maple branches, dusty miller, and the last of my pink dahlias.  All together, they made something rather pretty. 

If you made fun of me in your head because of the list making... all kidding aside, it was survival for me.  Because of life circumstances I've shared in the past, I haven't been feeling it. My kids aren't used to me putting a pumpkin on the table and joking about being all decorated for fall.  (I think it concerned my daughter at one point.)  I will admit this to you with my eyes averted- I even momentarily considered not having a Christmas tree this year. I know. Just smack me please!  It seemed rather pointless at the time the thought crossed my mind because well... life details seemed way bigger than having a tree.  At least I got my act back together and realized that my kids life is being rocked alongside mine and I've got to keep some stable traditions intact for their sake, regardless how I'm feeling or not feeling because of how things are changing. Hence the notebook and drumming up of plans and ideas months in advance.  We all need a little something to cling to and cheer us on sometimes, don't we? 

(But if I ever lose that notebook we're all in trouble.)
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Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

 Just on the off chance you're like me and already thinking of your Thanksgiving table... I wanted to once again share these beautiful place mats.  They would obviously work year-round, but especially during the holidays! Click here to view them at Ever Thine Home.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coffee overload

I am careening into this blog, trying to touch base with a Thursday post before the day is gone and my photos have no meaning, just pretty moments around the house...  Sometimes I can hardly wait til Friday to come... then other weeks I feel like I'm bending over with hands on my knees, panting to catch my breath while gasping, "Friday?  It's here already?"  This is one of those weeks.

I've spent a collective six hours in a local coffee shop over the course of this past week, connecting with some dear hearts, and I can attest to this- I'm all the better for it... and it wasn't because of that delicious, life giving brew, though I can't say it doesn't count as a perk. (See what I just did there?) (grin.)

I spent two of those hours with five other women, rollicking with laughter, deep words, shared wisdom and prayer requests earlier this week.  I've been blessed into a group doing bible study and we're working through the book Uninvited. (Blessed into... do you get that?  I don't know if it's a phrase but in my heart it is!  I've been dying for it for years now!) (As an aside, I think we may be on the verge of getting kicked out of the coffee shop because we're so rowdy. So, we're switching to a home meeting soon. How can there be anything but amazing, about a group like that I ask you?) It's the most life changing book I believe I've read since Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity.

Some raw honesty here...I've struggled so much with that lonely in a crowd feeling in life over the past several years.  I still can't quite pin-point all the why's and what's but I can tell you this... God wants us to have community.  I so deeply believe that.  I came here today with a heart full, simply to encourage someone out there who feels unconnected and wonders if they will ever find their people.

Adrain and I attended a large church for ten years and walked such a lonely path.  We volunteered, we joined, we went, we tried to go deep and I won't bore you with a list of what we did to find community, but it was weirdly long and ineffective.  We loved (and still love) the church so please don't misunderstand.  We simply never found our people there.  That vacancy was heightened by the fact that we happened to be in one of the toughest five year patches of life during that decade and we walked it alone, the two of us and God for the most part.  Looking back I think God allowed that lonely feeling to draw us to His side and since He never makes a mistake, I can say thank you for that season now.  But it felt like a stretch of time that would become our forever and the hopelessness of that plain stunk.  We wondered secretly together, "Do people just not like us?  Are we doing something wrong and nobody is telling us?"  (Well that's a crappy feeling no matter how you slice it but that thought was not coming from God.)

Eventually we stopped going regularly and nobody noticed.  The enemy of our hearts tried to tell us it wasn't worth pushing hard until we found community. But we prayed and searched and kept praying. Fast forward a year (yes a year of searching) and we landed.  God has brought a few things together almost all at once and I don't have the reasons for that either.  He knows best so we trust Him.  Church, friendships, bible study, supper club... it's still coming together.  Places to belong, places to fellowship, places to worship. 

 That, to say this.  If you've convinced yourself that church is unimportant for whatever reason- not fitting in, hurts from humans who sin because they aren't actually Jesus, busy schedules, worries about fitting in or standing out, whatever- push back. Your people are out there and God knows the niche He has planned for you to fill. If you're feeling desperate to belong and to find community, don't give up.  I actually sat down at this computer wondering what I'd say in today's blog.  It's a bit of scattered writing but often those are my favorites so I won't even go back to tweak it.  It's out there now!  Hopefully this sharing encourages you and if it makes any bit of difference... you're MY people. 

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

God shows up in my mess up.

My brain feels a bit scrambled today so I am half afraid that this post is going to arrive in your inbox as a reflection of that!  I've been battling some of my own issues for a few weeks now, and feel like God has intensely shown up in my mess up.  He hasn't fixed what I've broken but He's shown me His love, forgiveness, and care for me in ways that would speak to only me, and it's felt personal and sweet and needed.  It's left me in a heart scramble of wanting to change and shed my sin habits RIGHT AWAY and write down every detail of the last 24 hours so I don't forget (raising my Ebenezer) or just go take a nap because repentance and forgiveness is super-freeing, but also a little exhausting.  My brain works in mysterious ways. I also just finished the book Uninvited today, and I feel like it's left me on heart-overload on top of what I just said.  In a good way!

I've been watching the highlights of Instagram fall home tours lately, and it makes me laugh because I only have a handful of fall items around.  I haven't been feeling it, probably in part because of what's been happening in my heart these past few weeks.  Then again, holidays are feeling different in every way.  I have teens who are very adamant about what they want or don't want to incorporate anymore, as well as some boundaries that got firmly redrawn by my husband and I last year.  My dad has Alzheimer's. My husband's year of job change and commission-only pay has created changes.  And here's some raw honesty for you, lest you think you'll get anything else here... when I look back over the past calendar year, I can tell you that it's stripped me of every single thing that gave me any "security."  (Security has been a huge thing for me for many reasons, that I won't get into.  Just know that about me okay?)  God has allowed the stripping away of the things in life, that I draw tightly around me like a cuddly blanket, in order to "feel" tangibly secure even if only for a moment.  He's been gently pulling them away, corner by corner, and the terror of feeling exposed has forced me to turn to Him, as He has revealed idols, sin, poor choices, and misplaced priorities.  The amazing thing, has been to see how He wants me to let these things refine me, rather than define me.  I even read a devotional today in my First 5 app that spoke specifically about this!!  (If you don't read that app each day, trust me, you must get it!!)

I share all of that because I know I can't be the only person feeling like I'm in a mess of my own making.  I can't be the only person who has felt hopelessness or despair or foolishness or a need for security and the thing that has encouraged me the most, has been digging into the Word.  I've been reading verses with God's promises out loud, even walking from room to room as I read.  Claiming this ground, my heart, our home, our future in His name.  Claiming His security, His forgiveness, His plan for us, over anything false, temporary and misleading.  Today I claimed all of Psalm 91. If you need encouragement, go read it, out loud. 
As I close, I wanted to share more ways to spread a little Jesus through your seasonal (and regular) decor, to keep your eyes on Him, rather than all the fuss and bother that doesn't matter, not really, even if it's pretty...  I've shared Ever Thine Home many times.  I'm such a fan.  I shared these wreaths not long ago, and I couldn't stop thinking that I'd rather display the lightly glittered hymn page leaves as a garland, rather than wreaths.  So... on a whim, I inspected the backs to see how they were put together.  To my delight I realized they were long wired garlands looped into a wreath circle and wired together.  So, I gently pried open the little wire clasps that had created the loop wreaths, to unwind the long garland!  Then, I hooked both unwound wreath garlands together by the end, and created this longer garland which now hangs on the shelf above our Tv. 

This thanksgiving I've already gotten permission to veer from what I normally cook for my family to try somethings that are different.  Nothing feels the same, so somehow doing something new and fun for the menu sounds nice.  Does that make sense?  Trying to keep everything the same when it's not is too exhausting, and I'd rather embrace what might be a blessing by welcoming the new. 

These lovely place mats from Ever Thine Home may become our table runner for Thanksgiving this year, by placing them in a row down the middle of the table....  They are covered in gathering verses and are so sweet.  I'm still mulling over ideas and wanted to share them in case you're thinking ahead as well.   

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Psalm 91:9-16
"If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Masculine vs. Feminine, in decor

I have a notebook, filled with all the subjects I'd like to blog about this fall and as I've mentioned, the range of topics is extensive. Because we've been chatting mostly about home decor the past few days, I wanted to continue that thought, before moving on. Last week, I wrote about practical decor vs. pretty, and I'd like to dive a little further into this topic, with a slight twist. 

I've got an amazing friend who opened my eyes to the concept of masculine vs. feminine, when it comes to decor. We work together, organizing spaces but also often redesigning spaces, decorating or staging them for sale. (I do so love my job.) Her point, was that you can feel the imbalance when a space has been decorated with too many masculine items making it feel cold or industrial. Which means that the opposite is true, when a room has too many items that sway toward the feminine side, it can create a space that feels too sweet. After our conversation I was reflecting on this idea in my own home, and I realized, that she is absolutely correct!  I can tell when the balance is off and it bothers me until I tweak something, but up until this point, I wasn't sure how to define that "off" feeling! 

Since that post, I've made two or three small changes, such as relocating the paper wreaths to my french doors, moving the huge candle jar etc. and I'm amazed how the balanced feeling comes back. 

Masculine vs. Feminine.  For example, I have this darling chair above, which I would say could go either way but has a slightly more feminine feel to it, due to its softer curves and tufts.  It balances against the more masculine sofa, opposite, with it's clean lines.  On the sofa, I have sweet buffalo check pillows (definitely feminine) and I've balanced that sweetness with a small cowhide pillow on this chair.  It's like the pillows have a little conversation. (I changed out one other pillow on the sofa for one I had in my bedroom, since my last post.  It was a Pottery Barn lumbar pillow with embroidered feathers, and I exchanged it for the neutral thankful pillow, adding a slight punch of masculine into the pillow mix which felt a tad off to me.  Amazing how changing one pillow can do that. And the thankful pillow looks very at home in my bedroom so it all works.)

Side note, I am having that brain sizzle of an idea to make two doors for the Tv console table... I think, "It can't be that difficult, a handful of hinges, some wood, a little trim..." (and my husband's reluctant help.) (grin) Stay tuned.
 I'll be honest, I've fallen hard for this easy-to-move "table."  I shared previously, that it's a flipped upside-down wire basket from Land of Nod, that we got each of the kids when they were small and had out of control stuffed animals and balls.  Joe got this gray one and Ava got a white one.  I loved the white one here but on a whim, decided to try Joe's old gray one instead and it was instant "all better."  The white was great but maybe a bit too feminine with the other white-painted items...  This blended in a bit and the wood slice topper added to the more masculine feel. Just a tad more industrial. 
 Also, yes I moved the huge candle jar back to the floor.  I was too afraid of Joe cracking it when he swings himself around the corner to his room.  ("The struggle is real," says way too many broken lamps.)  That said, I am hoping to get some mums or fall branches and then I'll fill this bucket with something soft, balancing the more masculine touches in this spot with a bit of feminine.  Also, the curved basket below (feminine), pairs against the masculine bucket, lamp and frame.  I always think raw wood and metal are masculine, where painted wood and baskets are more feminine.

I don't know about you, but I really love creating our space as life moves.  I love making a haven for my people and seeing what many of you do in your homes as well. What a blessing it is, no matter our homes, our furnishings, or our taste, to make a restful landing place for those we love.  It's a privilege not to be taken lightly, yet always worth remembering not to make it an idol and let consume us.  That's always a balance worth striving for isn't it?  As I work to keep things tidy or organized in my own home, it can be a struggle not to be consumed with Pinterest ideas and seasonal home tours.  I love to re-read the 31st  chapter of Proverbs.  It often sets my brain straight and I hope it leaves you encouraged as well.  As we tweak our homes, let's serve Jesus by finding that balance and remembering why we do this job.
Proverbs 31: 17-31
"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 
 She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night.  In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.  When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Teenage style- (real teen boy bedroom makeover)

A few years ago, I was trying to convince my son that he needed to throw out half of his collected "items" and make his bedroom into a teen hangout haven. 

He resisted, so I dropped the issue. Boys can get very attached to rocks and sticks and pieces of tools... grin. Fast forward a little and he was finally ready to make some changes.  We'd been chatting about things we (aka I) wanted to do for a while.  We pondered the whole industrial pipe shelf idea but it felt like a lot of work and was more expensive that it seemed at first.  Then we talked about Ikea options, but that wasn't really my son's style.  My husband came up with the idea of lockers but we couldn't ever find any that weren't hundreds of dollars!  But then last weekend we stumbled upon a great locker set up... the right price... and so we jumped.  (I am blown away by the level of storage they offer.  I didn't think we'd have enough room for all Joe's books- from an entire bookshelf- or his personal items but he has tons of empty lockers, and room at the bottom for his actual shoes and sports equipment!)

It, of course, spiraled into an entire room refresh, as these things often do.  Some much needed sorting, weeding out and trash bag filling was accomplished and with some paint, new hardware and a lot less clutter, my son now has a room that is a reflection of his own style and personality- with maybe a few Mama tweaks and influences.  (I'd been showing him photos of Restoration Hardware teen boy rooms all year and he would always roll his eyes, ask where all their stuff was and assure me that it wasn't real.  He makes me laugh.)

I'm sorry to say that I didn't capture any before photos.  Can you just trust me when I say that as a mama who likes less clutter as opposed to more... it made me cringe and ache to get my hands on it and have my way?  Mis-matched furniture... an ugly green desk... no shelf space on the walls, just a bookcase that I hated and old, tired bedding that was in need of a refresh.  He still has a folding chair for his desk because this is real life... you can't always change everything at once but with a little creativity, a lot can be done in a weekend.  Change is hard for my son.  My daughter loves to redo things but Joe gets a bit attached to the way things are and I try to be understanding.  Ah, motherhood.  We worked together and it was a sweet little bonding time for us as I helped him and talked him through it. 

We touched up all his wall paint and I painted his desk with leftover paint from my recent coffee table refresh.  Joe chose these cool drawer pulls to finish his desk look, and I installed them.  We tossed his tired duvet cover and went with his existing cozy blankets, rather than matchy bedding and I actually liked this look way better.  It's very clean and tidy.  (Of course I'm sure it will stay just like this too.)  I sewed his Euro pillow cover from an old camp blanket that had a hole in it a couple years ago, and it worked perfectly in his room. I'm so glad I never got rid of it!

This shelf set up was so easy.  We bought four inexpensive metal brackets at Lowes and spray painted them with hammered metal spray paint.  My sweet husband installed them in studs and we had a six foot board cut in half for the shelf boards.  I stained them gray with leftover stain and loved the way they tied in with things.  The shelf materials cost under $25. 
We placed the books and items that had special meaning to Joe on his shelves and I think they turned out great!  He was a big Lego lover as a little boy and would spend hours creating things.  I love that a few of those creations have a place to be displayed as a reminder of his childhood. 

 The amazing sign above his bed is something he's had in his room for years.  Its from sweet Tara, at Between You and Me sign shop.
 Joe loves to play guitar, and we found this print on Etsy last Christmas as a present for him (I'm sorry I don't remember the name of the shop).  It's a guitar blueprint. 
 All of his clothing, hamper and dresser are in his closet and that works well since teen boy clothing should be behind closed doors. Ha! His hats are hung behind his door and a long mirror is attached to the back of his door.  I recently saw a great idea for a hamper... a metal garbage can with lid.  (He didn't need a hamper but it would sure look cool.  As for the men's room sign on his door... I have no words. He thinks it's hilarious.  I just go with it.  Boys.)
 I love using wall space as much as possible for kid rooms and these wall-mount guitar hangers are a great way to keep instruments off floors.
We recently changed our dining room lights and I had two of these metal barn lights from Lowe's leftover.  I wasn't sure what to do with them but when this makeover began, I decided to use one of them in Joe's room.  I spray painted it with more of that hammered metal paint. Joe chose an edison bulb and that's getting installed for him tonight. 

I'm so glad it turned out this well.  I won't lie, I so wanted to quit at about the half way mark but nothing great ever happens when you put things off or quit... so in light of my commitment post I shared the other day... I persevered.  Whoo!  

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Practicality speaks loudly.

You know that saying, "beauty is pain?"  Yeah well it may be true for high heels and piercing your ears, but it doesn't apply in real life with decor and kids, and mama-sanity. 

I've had to learn the hard way, that just because it works for others in social media, my kids are not everyone else, and sometimes that means changes must be made so we can continue to be a wash and wear family without all the stress of "keeping it perfectly pretty."  (Which meant that my trial with a white slip covered chair ended rather hastily some years ago, and the furry rug that made an appearance last fall got moved into a non-kid zone.  And that painting everything pretty-white does mean I must also scrub it clean, often.) So let's chat about this coffee table.  Oh how I love this table.  I could sing it's praises all day long.  

However.  I was a bit too excited when I made it over and didn't take time to sand it down (blechk!) so over time, the orange paint that it was coated in when I got it, began to show through the edges and when something would scratch it. Also, white table top... sometimes (often) dirty teen feet... bad idea.  I was scrubbing it constantly and then getting mad that I had to keep touching up paint and scrubbing it. 

Ain't no mama got time for something that requires that much work. 

Finally, I admitted defeat and came up with a new plan.  I sanded the entire thing down to the bare wood, no more orange paint.  Then I stained the top with a gray stain and painted the base in a dark gray-navy that works beautifully with my decor and the updated mid-century style of this piece.  It is both practical and pretty. Now everyone is happy.

Isn't it so easy to get caught up in what others choose to do with decor only to realize later, that your OWN real life, less strife and casual comfortable living mean more than cramming your family's style into a box it doesn't fit into?  I hate to admit it, but I can be that way on occasion and this table was a humbling reminder that I must stop and think through what works and what doesn't, in a practical way, not just because something is pretty. The good news, nearly everything is fixable and you can often combine a little bit of pretty into the practical.

(Side note for a giggle- I have given up the battle of the remote controls.  I found a cute metal tote in an antique shop because they are going to be on the table unless I move them... and if you can't beat em, join em!  Now, I only have to move them from the coffee table top into the metal tote sitting right beside them.)  (You get this right?  It's not a hard concept... but sometimes it's not a hill to die on, so I just move them into the tote that is meant to hold them and say nothing.) (ha!)

You may be noticing a few bits of fall here and there and they are all about the pretty!  It's likely the only "fall" I'll have on display, beside a real pumpkin or two, though I did make the cutest little sign in my kitchen this week and I'm hoping to share that next week! (That said, I swooned over a few glass pumpkins in Pottery Barn but somehow glass pumpkins didn't make the budget. Weird.) I pulled out my thankful pillow from last year, along with my paper wreaths from Ever Thine home and an old white pumpkin canister that I got at Target years ago. (By the way, I have visited Target once in going on two years now.  How is this possible?  I don't even know... but I don't even miss it.)

Of course the Seahawks football schedule is back on the big chalkboard and it makes my boys so happy. (Pretty? Meh.  Practical? Oh yeah baby!) (Let me restate that... it's "pretty" to my men!)

 Now this side table...  I had a white one from Ikea here, but I recently moved it into my bedroom Tv nook so I could set a lamp and a drink on it, and it's working so well in there. (I'll be updating house tour photos soon and will try to share that!)  This was an old wire basket from Land of Nod that Ava used as a little girl and I flipped it over and put a wood slice on it.  I've been using it randomly as a side table all over the house, but what I love about having it here, is that I can slide it beside the chair that sits in front of the bookshelves if I need it, or keep it here.  See? Practical.  Which I'm apparently all about right now.
This huge jar of candles and wire lights was sitting on the floor and it may end up back there again because I tend to gravitate toward less surface items on tables and such, and this is the opposite of that. (I have this thing- if there are items on the coffee table, it drives me nuts to also have things on the side tables.  I'm working it all out in my head.) (In case you wanted to know.)

Regardless, I'm trying it out on the table right now because we plug it in daily and I'm still not sure where I like it better.  The problem is that I love it both places at night... it's so cozy!  Is it practical?  Well... time will tell. But it's SO PRETTY!!! Especially at night.  (The lights are from Amazon and I love that they plug in rather than operate on expensive battery power.)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on practical vs. pretty living, and how you work in your own homes- if you, like me, try to combine it just a bit.  Isn't it fun how we all have different ways and styles that work specifically for us and our people?  (And if you have white slip covers, I'll try not to be jealous that you can make those babies work when I couldn't.) (Wink.)

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